Rooster and Sad Bird

This watercolor of a rooster was made without making an underlying drawing first. Using a photograph as my source, I sketched in the shapes with yellow watercolor and went from there, painting the shapes, building up values and punching up to brighter colors. My teacher and fellow students told me to stop painting at this point. So here it is. I would have gone on fiddling with the details and probably would have ruined the rooster, lost the freshness, and muddied the colors if I had done this at home alone.

Rooster, watercolor

Rooster, watercolor

Next, I painted a red bird, also from one of my teacher’s wildlife photographs. Red Bird quickly became Drippy Sad Bird, so I stopped painting. He has a nice droopy affect that is kind of comical, so I like him even though this is a bit of a technical #fail.

Red bird, watercolor

Sad Bird, watercolor

After class, I brought home the source photographs and continued working. The image below shows the process from top left to the final bird on the bottom right. I made a sketch first with yellow ochre watercolor pencil. Next, I might make another painting of this bird or, more likely, for my sanity, I will try painting another bird for a change. Clearly, capturing shapes and values with watercolor is very challenging, as advertised. The hardest part for me is just to sit down and make art and be willing to fail, over and over, with the occasional successful Rooster popping up under my paint brush in a happy accident.

Red bird, watercolor

Red Bird, watercolor

Studio Views

I spend too much time bemoaning the mess that is my studio space. A cluttered studio is a convenient excuse for procrastinating. Cleaning out the studio definitely means you find art supplies, projects, and old work you forgot about. Putting the stuff back in new places guarantees you will never find them again. Having a Pinterest board of aspirational studio spaces is a time sink that rarely leads to actual studio upgrades. But the worst thing is having no studio space at all. So my little corner of one room with my pre-historic drafting table, jars of brushes and pens on a lazy Susan my son made in shop in middle school, and natural light from a south-facing window is better than using one end of the dining room table, for example. Even the smallest space allows you to leave your work out without putting it away when its time to eat. It’s nice to dream about a beautiful, spacious studio that would magically call to me, maybe with a magic force field that would pick the right music, have the right pen fly into my hand, and empty my monkey mind of everything other than a happy focus on the next work of art. But the real magic is mostly just sitting in that pink chair, put a piece of paper on the table, pick up a pencil, and just start.

Drafting table with still life

Cleaning out my studio space

Daylilies and chaos cleanup

3 Time’s the Charm, or maybe not

What do you do with a burnt cake? Do you save the good bits, ice it prodigiously, and serve it anyway? Or do you toss it in the bin with a vengeful thump and cross that recipe off your list decisively? And what do I do with a painting gone very wrong? Here is the visual evidence of my recent attempts to paint a vase of flowers.

First try: ack!

Watercolor vase of flowers

First try vase of flowers

Second try: sigh
Vase of flowers

Can this painting be salvaged?

Third try: turn over the paper over from #1:
Watercolor flowers

Contestant #3

Okay, getting better, or at least it has potential. While I wait for it to dry, I go after Painting #3 with crayons and channel the Fauvists. Opposite colors adjacent to each other. And start stamping in patterns, because, why not?
The Fauve painting:

Watercolor flowers

Can I call this Fauvism or Fail?

Then I return to painting # 3 which I think of as the conventional, normal, pretty good/not bad ‘Vase of Flowers’ still life in watercolor only, and dab in some blocky brushstrokes with a square tipped brush to bring the painting out of its anemic state. 
Still life flowers

Still life flowers

So that’s it for now. The very bad, awkward #1 is hidden on the back of normal, conventional #3 and the wild beast #2 is masking attempt #2. I can live with either of these but the uncontrollable aspects of the medium tempted me to throw them all away. As for the ruined cake? I threw mine in the bin every year on my kids’ birthdays and drove frantically to a bakery to replace my awful cakes. After some years, I skipped the baking part and went straight to the bakery. But the funny thing is that my kids like talking about the awful cakes. We learn from our mistakes, plus they make some funny memories.